Bello Matawalle, governor of Zamfara, has justified the pardon granted to repentant bandits in the state.
Matawalle said the gesture is “the best approach” to tackle Nigeria’s security challenges, adding that it has helped more than 1,000 persons abducted by the bandits to regain freedom.
Some parts of the north have been under attacks by bandits who invade remote communities and ambush road travellers.
Zamfara is among the worst-hit states facing the security challenge.
As the situation continued to deteriorate, the state began to grant amnesty to the bandits, forgiving as many as are willing to repent — a measure that has been heavily criticised by many Nigerians.
Matawalle, who spoke on a Channels TV programme on Sunday, defended the gesture, saying: “I cannot fold my arms seeing my people being killed every day.
“The Zamfara template is a focus on inviting various armed groups to subscribe to our non-kinetic approach of forgiveness, disarmament, de-mobilisation and re-integration of repentant bandits into the society.
“We consider this peace process as the best approach as large numbers of those participating in various crimes of kidnapping animals, banditry were pushed into these by circumstances such as reprisals and lawlessness of self-acclaimed vigilante groups.
“The Zamfara template is all about building a foundation upon which we hope the entire country will adopt as a sustainable means.”
He said as a result of the pardon granted to bandits, Zamfara “is not only calm” but “we have opened up a livelihood for our people as they have now gone back to their normal lives”.
“We have also secured the release of over 1,000 people without paying any ransom. We equally received over 300 sophisticated weapons surrendered by the repentant bandits and their gang leaders,” the governor said.
“We believe it is the best alternative to the present security situation facing our country.”